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Pre-school education benefits society and economy

4 October 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Pre-school education benefits society and economy

Progressive MP Matt Robson says quality, government-funded pre-school education benefits society and the economy - just as government-funded primary education does.

"It has been reported that Treasury opposes the Labour Progressive government's commitment to invest in 20 hours education a week for children aged three and four.

"In an apparent throw-back to an earlier age, the Treasury Party's problem is apparently that universal provision carries - I quote - 'dead-weight costs due to the lack of targeting those groups currently under-participating," Matt Robson said.

"Good grief!

"We haven't seen this line of argument since the nineteenth century when conservative aristocrats in Europe strenuously opposed universal, State-funded education for five-to-sixteen year olds as a waste of money.

The Progressive MP said that New Zealand, like all countries, is engaged in an epic contest to develop a First World education system and to maintain skilled people in our labour market in a global economy in which there is growing competition for skilled people.

"That means we have to raise our average and median educational standards from pre-school to tertiary.

"It means we have to open doors to education and skills for all of our people, regardless of their social backgrounds and the most efficient way of doing that is to provide it on a universal basis because the unintended effects of income-targeting often deliver new sets of inefficiencies and unfairnesses - as well as a lot more bureaucracy," the Progressive MP said.


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